Castle Rock (TV series)
|Based on||Characters & settings|
by Stephen King
|Theme music composer||Thomas Newman|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||10 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||43–59 minutes|
|Distributor||Warner Bros. Television|
|Original release||July 25, 2018 –|
Castle Rock is an American psychological horror anthology web television series based on characters and settings from the stories of Stephen King that premiered on July 25, 2018 on Hulu. The series, created by Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason and starring André Holland, Melanie Lynskey, Bill Skarsgård, Jane Levy, and Sissy Spacek, intertwines characters and themes from the fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine. On August 14, 2018, it was announced that the series had been renewed for a second season.
Castle Rock combines "the mythological scale and intimate character storytelling of King’s best-loved works, weaving an epic saga of darkness and light, played out on a few square miles of Maine woodland."
Cast and characters
- André Holland as Henry Matthew Deaver, a criminal attorney specializing in capital punishment cases. He left Castle Rock after the townspeople suspected his involvement in his adoptive father's death, but returns upon receiving a strange request. Caleel Harris portrays a young Henry in a recurring role.
- Melanie Lynskey as Molly Strand, the owner of M. Strand & Associates Real Estate and a childhood neighbor of Henry's who possesses telepathic and empathic abilities. Cassady McClincy portrays a young Molly in a recurring role.
- Bill Skarsgård as "The Kid", an enigmatic inmate at Shawshank State Penitentiary secretly held prisoner by Warden Dale Lacy for 27 years. He specifically asks for Henry after being released from a septic tank located beneath an abandoned cell block in the prison. The Kid eventually claims that he is Matthew and Ruth's biological son from an alternate universe, who had been transported from his universe to help an alternate version of Henry back to his reality. Henry, unable to accept or believe in alternate realities, locks The Kid in an abandoned Shawshank once more.
- Jane Levy as Diane "Jackie" Torrance, an aspiring writer who works at M. Strand & Associates Real Estate and the niece of Jack Torrance. She possesses a vast knowledge of Castle Rock's history and took her uncle's name in order to spite her parents.
- Sissy Spacek as Ruth Deaver, Henry's estranged adoptive mother and a lifelong Castle Rock resident whose struggle with dementia leads her to reveal secrets about the town's dark past. Ruth later dies sometime before the first season epilogue, and is buried alongside Alan. Schuyler Fisk portrays a younger Ruth in a recurring role.
- Scott Glenn as Alan Pangborn, the retired former sheriff of Castle Rock who moves in with Ruth Deaver unbeknownst to her son Henry. Pangborn is accidentally shot by Ruth when she mistakes him for her dead husband. Jeffrey Pierce portrays a younger Alan in a recurring role.
- Noel Fisher as Dennis Zalewski, a correctional officer at Shawshank who discovers "The Kid" and anonymously calls Henry after hearing "The Kid" say his name. Zalewski begins to go insane and, after discovering that Henry is dropping the Kid's case, guns down numerous prison officers before he is killed by another officer.
- Adam Rothenberg as Reverend Matthew Deaver, Henry's late adoptive father and Castle Rock's former pastor whose death prompted the townspeople to label Henry as the prime suspect. It is revealed that Henry did in fact attempt to kill Matthew after discovering that he intended to kill Ruth for having an affair with Alan.
- Chris Coy as Boyd, a correctional officer at Shawshank that works alongside Dennis.
- Ann Cusack as Theresa Porter, the new warden of Shawshank and Dale Lacy's successor. Porter covers up The Kid's existence, fearing that she will be the scapegoat. Porter is run over by a prison bus carrying Shawshank's former prisoners, after agreeing with Lacy that The Kid is the Devil.
- Aaron Staton as Castle Rock's pastor and Matthew Deaver's successor at the local Church of the Incarnation.
- Josh Cooke as Reeves, the deputy warden of Shawshank.
- Terry O'Quinn as Dale Lacy, the former warden of Shawshank who commits suicide by decapitation shortly before "The Kid" is discovered.
- Zabryna Guevara as Maret
- Rory Culkin as Willie, the interpreter and protégé of Odin Branch.
- Charles Jones as Odin Branch, an old friend of Reverend Matthew Deaver with advanced degrees in bioacoustics and psychoacoustics.
- Chosen Jacobs as Wendell Deaver, Henry's son.
- Frances Conroy as Martha Lacy, the now-widowed wife of Dale Lacy whom Henry visits in attempt to gain more information about Shawshank.
- Charlie Tahan as Dean Merrill, a teenage drug dealer who supplies Molly with medication.
- Mark Harelik as Gordon, a history professor from Des Moines, Iowa who moves to Castle County after attacking a man for sleeping with his wife. Following the move, the couple convert the Lacy home into a bed and breakfast.
- Lauren Bowles as Lilith, Gordon's wife and one of the new owners of the Lacy home.
- Mathilde Deyahe as Amity
- Allison Tolman as Bridget Strand, Molly's sister
- Frank L. Ridley as Chesterton, a lieutenant correctional officer at Shawshank.
- Phyllis Somerville as Leanne Chambers ("Severance"), one of Henry's clients in Texas who is sentenced to death for murdering her husband Richard.
- Brionne Davis as Garrett Coyne ("Habeas Corpus")
- Audrey Moore as Mrs. Strand, Molly's mother. ("Habeas Corpus")
- Burke Moses as Local Color Host ("Local Color"), the host of public access television show Local Color on WEBV, Castle County's community television station.
- David Selby as Josef Desjardins ("The Box"), a barber and the brother of Vince Desjardins, a convicted felon who was suspected in Henry Deaver's disappearance.
- Richard Schiff as Warden Porter's Superior ("Harvest"), a man to whom Porter reports to at Shawshank
- James LeGros as the Sheriff of Castle Rock ("Harvest"), a man who currently holds the position of Castle Rock's sheriff
- Peta Sergeant as Angela ("Harvest")
- Amanda Brooks as Psychologist ("Harvest")
- Jayne Atkinson as Daria Reese ("Past Perfect"), a senior state police officer who knows Henry from when he and her daughter were in high school together.
- Rodrigo Lopresti as Gaddis ("Past Perfect"), the male from couple that are Gordon and Lilith's first bed and breakfast guests.
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original release date|
|1||"Severance"||Michael Uppendahl||Sam Shaw & Dustin Thomason||July 25, 2018|
|In 1991 Castle Rock, Maine, Sheriff Alan Pangborn finds missing child Henry Deaver standing on the town's frozen lake. Twenty-seven years later, on his last day as warden of Shawshank State Penitentiary, Dale Lacy commits suicide. His successor, Theresa Porter, plans to reopen a long-abandoned cell block so that she can maintain the growing inmate population. While counting the beds, guard Dennis Zalewski comes across a Kid locked in an underground cage. The Kid, upon being released, whispers Henry's full name. Porter refuses to involve Henry, who is now a death-row lawyer, but Zalewski anonymously calls him. After returning to Castle Rock and reconnecting with Pangborn and his dementia-suffering mother Ruth, Henry attempts to learn more about The Kid only for Porter to stonewall him. Zalewski, meanwhile, discovers that The Kid has escaped and slaughtered several other guards. In a flashback, it is revealed that Henry's father went missing around the same time he did and was found dead. In a second flashback, Lacy tells The Kid to ask for Henry when the time comes.|
|2||"Habeas Corpus"||Michael Uppendahl||Sam Shaw & Dustin Thomason||July 25, 2018|
|Henry tries to learn more about the events at Shawshank from Lacy's widow only to be kicked out when she accuses him of killing his father. Zalewski discovers that the mass slaughter was all in his head and confronts The Kid. Pangborn meets with Porter, telling her he found a letter written by Lacy. In the letter, he states his belief that the Devil had taken on the form of a boy and that he locked him away because God told him to. Porter immediately places The Kid in a new cell only for his cellmate to die of cancer.|
|3||"Local Color"||Dan Attias||Gina Welch||July 25, 2018|
|4||"The Box"||Michael Uppendahl||Scott Brown||August 1, 2018|
|Henry experiences flashbacks from when he went missing and goes to the home of a suspect in his case. He finds the suspect who gives him the police file associated with his disappearance. Meanwhile, Henry's father's casket arrives at the church. Henry decides to take the prison's offer for the Kid, claiming he wants to go back to his family. Zalewski has an encounter with the Kid. When Henry tells him that he will take the settlement, Zalewski takes a gun and shoots many guards and officers within the prison before being gunned down himself, in front of Henry.|
|5||"Harvest"||Andrew Bernstein||Lila Byock||August 8, 2018|
|Henry's father's casket arrives at the church before its moved to the new plot, and the Father tells Henry that something odd is happening; the casket is dripping what is supposed to be Henry's father's cooked body (because the casket serves as an oven for the body in rare cases), but this shouldn't be happening because his father died a long time ago. Wildfires are raging near Castle Rock. Shawshank releases the Kid and Henry sets him up in the room above Molly's office. The Kid wanders into a family’s dinner/birthday celebration and seemingly causes a violent end. Jackie finds the Kid and hangs out with him. Alan is honored at a bridge-naming ceremony, during which Ruth is spooked by a dog and jumps off the bridge and into the water. Alan and Henry speak with her at the hospital. Alan discovers the Kid in the forest. Alan states that the Kid hasn’t aged a day since 1991 and the Kid offers to help Ruth.|
|6||"Filter"||Kevin Hooks||Vinnie Wilhelm & Marc Bernardin||August 15, 2018|
|The episode opens with the second funeral and burial of Matthew Deaver, Henry's adoptive father. Henry begins to hear a ringing in his ear which he also experienced as a child. The Kid tells Alan to find Warden Lacy's old car in order to save Ruth's memory. Henry brings the Kid to Juniper Hills Psychiatric Hospital. Henry's son Wendell comes to visit. Ruth describes to Wendell how she uses chess pieces to help her memory. Henry goes to Molly to discuss the flashbacks he has of his father bringing him into the woods and Molly admits to murdering his father. Henry goes into the same woods that his father brought him into as a child. He discovers two campers, Odin, a deaf man, and Willie, his interpreter. Odin claims that the ringing Henry hears is a schisma, which Henry's father believed was the Voice of God. He tricks Henry into an anechoic chamber in their camper where he begins to hallucinate his father. The Kid has escaped Juniper Hills by setting a fire and Alan finds him on the front porch of the Deaver home with a bloody hand. Alan rushes into the house to try and find Ruth.|
|7||"The Queen"||Greg Yaitanes||Sam Shaw||August 22, 2018|
|The timeline shifts between the past and present, at once recounting Ruth's life with Henry as a boy, scenes from previous episodes now through Ruth's point of view, and the Kid's mysterious intrusion into Ruth's house in the present. Ruth recalls Matthew Deaver's first time hearing "the voice of God" and her relationship with Alan Pangborn. Expanding upon a scene from a previous episode, Wendell interprets Ruth's dementia with a VR game, calling Ruth a "timewalker," who must defeat her nemesis, Matthew Deaver in the form of the Kid. Back in the present, Ruth sends Wendell away to protect him. The Kid makes dinner for Ruth, and tells her to eat a sedative. In response, Ruth distracts the Kid by asking him to draw her a bath, does not take the pill, and runs upstairs to find a revolver. While at first she does not remember where the bullets are, her memories lead her to unpack the bullets in her suitcase. Returning to the events at the beginning of the episode, Ruth hides in the shed with the loaded revolver, ready to shoot the Kid when he walks through. Instead, she shoots and kills Alan Pangborn by accident as he walks through.|
|8||"Past Perfect"||Ana Lily Amirpour||Mark Lafferty||August 29, 2018|
|Gordon and Lilith, who bought Lacy's house, turn it into a murder-story bed and breakfast. Gordon, who has trouble forgiving Lilith over her affair, murders their first booking – who are cheating on their spouses. That same night, Molly’s “connection” to Henry draws her to the woods, where she frees him from the locked chamber in Odin’s camper, though neither of them see Odin’s murdered corpse nearby. While The Kid tells Henry about Ruth killing Alan, and that he has waited for Henry for 27 years, Henry's son Wendell calls in the state police. The Kid runs off and is suspected in Alan's murder. Henry breaks into Lacy's (now Gordon’s) house and finds Lacy’s 27-years of drawings of an unchanging The Kid. Gordon and Lilith find him and try to kill him, fearful he’ll reveal the murder of their lodgers. In the melee, Lilith accidentally stabs herself in the jugular, while Jackie Torrance arrives and saves Henry by burying an axe in Gordon’s skull. The Kid visits Molly and finally starts talking, beginning with how he has seen her die in the woods.|
|9||"Henry Deaver"||Julie Anne Robinson||Vinnie Wilhelm & Scott Brown||September 5, 2018|
|10||"Romans"||Nicole Kassell||Dustin Thomason & Mark Lafferty||September 12, 2018|
|Molly explains to Henry what she has learned from The Kid regarding their intersecting lives and realities. Henry and The Kid are arrested as suspects in the flurry of deaths. In jail, The Kid tells Henry that bad follows him because he is an anomaly to this reality, and that they must go together to Castle Lake before the sounds, signifying the realities are touching, disappear. More strange deaths occur, leading to some Shawshank inmates slaughtering civilians and officers at the Castle Rock jail. Henry and The Kid escape in the confusion, with The Kid forcing Henry, at gunpoint, to Castle Lake. Henry starts to remember his experience with his father in 1991, including the fact that he pushed Preacher Deaver off a cliff for planning to kill his mother, Ruth. Henry overpowers The Kid. One year later, Henry is living in Castle Rock as a property lawyer, Molly is a successful real estate agent in the Florida Keys and The Kid is imprisoned in the now-abandoned Shawshank. In a mid-credits scene, Jackie talks to Dean Merrill about the book she is writing and her plans to travel west to research her family history.|
On February 17, 2017, it was announced that Hulu, J. J. Abrams, and Stephen King were collaborating on a new series entitled Castle Rock based on King's large canon of work. It was further reported that the series would be written by Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason and produced by Abrams' Bad Robot Productions and distributed by Warner Bros. Television. Four days later, Hulu further revealed that they had given the production a series order consisting of a first season of ten episodes, and executive producers would include Abrams, King, Shaw, Thomason, Ben Stephenson, and Liz Glotzer. On July 12, 2017, it was announced that Michael Uppendahl was joining the production as a co-executive producer and would direct the pilot episode.
On August 14, 2018, it was announced that Hulu had renewed the series for a second season.
On May 11, 2017, it was announced that André Holland had been cast in the series' lead role. In June 2017, it was announced that Jane Levy, Sissy Spacek, and Melanie Lynskey had joined the main cast. On July 10, 2017, Bill Skarsgård was added to the series' main cast. In August 2017, it was reported that Scott Glenn and Terry O'Quinn had been added as series regulars. On March 1, 2018, it was announced that Chosen Jacobs had joined the series in the recurring role of Wendell Deaver, the son of Holland's character. On June 8, 2018, it was announced during the annual ATX Television Festival that Allison Tolman had joined the cast in the recurring role of Lynsky's character's sister. Five days later, it was reported that Noel Fisher had also been cast in a recurring role.
Principal photography for the first season was expected to take place in Massachusetts in locations such as Orange, Massachusetts and at New England Studios in Devens, Massachusetts. In August, production began in Devens and in Orange, where the downtown area of the town had been refitted to appear as the town of Castle Rock, and where production was expected to continue through January 2018. That month, crews also shot scenes at Vernon Hill School in Worcester, Massachusetts and at an old Victorian house in Lancaster, Massachusetts. Filming returned to Orange during the week of August 21 for production of the series' second episode. In late September 2017, filming took place in Tewksbury, Massachusetts at The Public Health Museum on the campus of the Tewksbury State Hospital. In October 2017, filming took place at the Central Cemetery in Orange where a funeral scene was shot. The downtown area was refitted with a more modern look in November for another phase of production. From September 4, 2017 until the end of the month, production took place at the former West Virginia Penitentiary in Moundsville, West Virginia which appeared as the fictional Shawshank State Prison. On November 21, 2017, filming took place in Worcester in the lobby of the Mercantile Building which had been refitted into a boardroom. On December 18, 2017, production for the season finale began. and by January all filming in Orange was completed and the production proceeded to donate $3,500 dollars to the town. The Fire Department has received $2,500 for helping facilitate production, and the Trustees of Soldiers' Memorial will receive another $1,000.
Visual effects were used to alter seasons, including adding snow to scenes in which there was no snow on location, as well as to create a forest fire in episode five.
The song "Twenty Four Hours from Tulsa" is used three times during the series – including the first song heard in the series premiere (Gene Pitney's 1963 version) and the last song heard over the closing credits of the season one finale (Dusty Springfield's 1964 version) – capturing the underlying situation of The Kid in the lyrics: “Dearest darling, I had to write to say that I won’t be home anymore / ’Cause something happened to me while I was driving home / And I’m not the same anymore”.
Simultaneously with the series announcement, Hulu released the first teaser trailer for the series. The teaser trailer mentions titles of and characters from a number of Stephen King novels, short stories, and collections including: It, Dolores Claiborne, Needful Things, 'Salem's Lot, Dreamcatcher, Night Shift, The Green Mile, Misery, Hearts in Atlantis, The Shining, "The Mangler", Four past Midnight, Different Seasons, Nightmares & Dreamscapes, The Dark Half, and "The Night Flier".
On October 8, 2017, a second teaser trailer was unveiled at the annual New York Comic Con and subsequently released online. On February 1, 2018, released a thirty-second television commercial for the series online that eventually aired three days later during Super Bowl LII. Hulu reportedly paid $5 million to air the advertisement during the football game. On May 2, 2018, a third teaser trailer was released alongside the announcement of the show's premiere date of July 25, 2018. On July 10, 2018, the first full trailer for the series was released.
On June 8, 2018, the series took part in the annual ATX Television Festival in Austin, Texas where a "first look" at footage from the series took place. Following the premiere of the footage, a question-and-answer panel occurred with creators and executive producers Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason. On June 19, 2018, it was announced that the series would hold its world premiere during the show's panel at San Diego Comic Con in San Diego, California where cast members including Sissy Spacek, Bill Skarsgard, and Melanie Lynskey were set to be in attendance.
On September 7, 2018, the series took part in the 12th Annual PaleyFest Fall Television Previews which featured a screening of the first season finale and a discussion with creator and executive producer Sam Shaw.
The first season was released by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on digital platforms on October 15, 2018. It was then released on Blu-ray and DVD on January 8, 2019. All ten episodes of the season were made available in the set along with exclusive bonus content.
The series has been met with a generally positive response from critics. On the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the series holds an 86% approval rating with an average rating of 7.57 out of 10 based on 70 reviews. The website's critical consensus reads, "A meticulously crafted mystery brimming with allusions, Castle Rock is bound to please even the pickiest of Stephen King fans — though mileage may vary for casual viewers." Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the series a score of 66 out of 100 based on 35 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Early reviews for the series were generally positive. Collider's Dave Trumbore praised the series saying, "Shaw, Thomason, Abrams & Co. really nail the core concepts of King’s storytelling here. Each character gets a good amount of screen time to focus on introspection...Castle Rock is a can’t-miss series for Stephen King fans and a must-watch horror show for fans of dark, thrilling, character-focused mysteries." In a similarly favorable critique, Entertainment Weekly's Kristen Baldwin gave the series a grade of "A-" and commended it saying, "Though most characters are new (Scott Glenn’s Alan Pangborn, a sheriff who appeared in Needful Things and The Dark Half, is one exception), for King fans the world of Castle Rock will be inescapably familiar. Spending time here feels, in many ways, like coming home — with all of the excitement and dread such a visit entails." In another approving criticism, Ben Travers of Indiewire gave the series a grade of "B+" and complimented it saying, "For a show that could’ve been dominated by its origins, Castle Rock sure has a good time breathing new life into them. Smart, fun scares; deeply felt, well-founded characters; layers of story to decipher, along with the references — what more could you want in a new piece of the Stephen King library?" In a mixed review, Dan Fienberg of The Hollywood Reporter criticized the series saying, "The actors will offer the best incentive for the King-ambivalent to tune into Castle Rock, but I'm not sure even they will ultimately be enough to overcome the sluggish and vague story." In a negative review, Daniel D'Addario of Variety was even more disapproving saying, "It’s eerie-by-the-numbers, repeatedly telling us quite how scared we ought to be, without yet building characters for whom we feel sympathetic fear."
Among all first season episodes, "The Queen" received particular acclaim from critics with praise being directed towards the writing and Spacek's performance. On Rotten Tomatoes, the episode holds a 100% approval rating with an average rating of 9.75 out of 10 based on 14 reviews. The Ringer's Miles Surrey referred to the episode as "not only the best episode of the series, but one of the best episodes of television in 2018." Vulture's Brian Tallerico awarded the episode a rating of five out of five stars and was similarly enthusiastic saying, "Television doesn't get much more heartbreaking than "The Queen," a showcase for the legendary Sissy Spacek and one of the best hours of television this year." Aiming commendation at the episode's instrumental score, Birth.Movies.Death.'s Jacob Knight wrote, "The music in Castle Rock – courtesy of composer Chris Westlake – has been nothing short of exemplary throughout the entire series, but in "The Queen" it practically becomes a character unto itself."
Awards and nominations
|2018||People's Choice Awards||The Drama Show of 2018||Castle Rock||Shortlisted|||
|2019||Art Directors Guild Awards||Excellence in Production Design for a One Hour
|Anastasia White (for "Mandatory")||Nominated|||
|Golden Reel Awards||Broadcast Media Longform Effects / Foley||TBA (for "Severance")||Nominated|||
|Writers Guild of America Awards||Television: Long Form – Original||Marc Bernardin, Scott Brown,
Lila Byock, Mark Lafferty,
Sam Shaw, Dustin Thomason,
Gina Welch, & Vinnie Wilhelm
|Fangoria Chainsaw Awards||Best Series||Castle Rock||Pending|||
|Satellite Awards||Best Television Series – Genre||Castle Rock||Nominated|||
- Castle Rock, the fictional town upon which the series is based
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